Questions for God in the Wilderness
Dear Kaleid Ladies,
How are you today? We hope that you can get out, breathe deeply, and enjoy the beauty of warm sunshine that promises springtime.
Did you know that Lent means “spring?” It comes from an Old English word that also gave us our word “lengthen.” Hidden within Lent is the promise of longer days, more light, and new life.
Last week we talked about how the Church observes Lent as a symbolic way of walking with Jesus in the 40 days of His wilderness journey.
Wilderness seasons prepare our hearts for new life. Winter precedes springtime. The rhythms of the natural world and the rhythms of the spiritual world are intertwined. God is good.
Over the next six weeks of Lent, we are going to spend some time exploring the idea of the wilderness, together. In the Scriptures, God’s people spend much time in the literal and figurative wilderness. We are going to pause to notice what happens in the wilderness, and we will offer ways to consciously enter into the hidden wilderness work that God is doing in our lives to prepare our hearts for the new life of Easter.
This Week’s Story:
One of the earliest wilderness stories in the Bible is in Exodus 3, where, “Moses was shepherding the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. He led the flock to the west end of the wilderness and came to the mountain of God, Horeb. The angel of God appeared to him in flames of fire blazing out of the middle of a bush. He looked. The bush was blazing away but it didn’t burn up.” (vv. 1-3)
It was clearly a special wilderness day for Moses.
God and Moses proceed to have a fireside chat. God assures Moses that He is, actually, God and says, “I’ve taken a good, long look at the affliction of my people in Egypt. I’ve heard their cries for deliverance from their slave masters; I know all about their pain. And now I have come down to help them.” (v. 7)
Then God enlists Moses’ service.
At this point, Moses asks a poignant wilderness question. He asks, “Who am I?” or, said another way in a different version, “Why me?” (v. 11)
Moses wasn’t quite sure that becoming something other than a successful shepherd in the family business was for him. He wasn’t quite certain he wanted to leave the protection of his father-in-law’s standing as the priest of another, well-respected, local god.
The wilderness can be the place where God invites us to lay down carefully constructed, deeply held parts of ourselves. To walk away from what has kept us safe. The vulnerability of wilderness encounters leave us with deep identity questions like, “Who am I?” or even, “Why me?”
God answers Moses’ wilderness question. But not really.
His answer is, “I will be with you.”
That’s it. “I will be with you.”
God’s answer is enough for Moses to remain in the conversation.
“I will be with you” is enough to hold Moses in the tension of his life with God--the tension between trusting and wrestling, between following and questioning, between believing and hesitating.
The wilderness tension is held together by the words of I AM: “I will be with you.”
Lent isn’t just an invitation to wander in dry lands for 40 days. Lent is an invitation to “go there” with God. To risk the hard questions and to receive the mysterious answer of God’s presence. And to let that carry us into the healthy tensions of our wilderness journeys to Easter.
A Wilderness Practice:
Today, would you be willing to go toward a wilderness encounter by way of Moses’ honest question and God’s oblique but faithful answer? Set aside 15 minutes, perhaps at lunchtime or as you go to bed, and journal with these prompts:
Gracious God, today, my articulation of Moses’ question, “who am I?” or “why me?” looks and feels like this…
And, Gracious God, today, your answer, “I will be with you” brings out the following response in my heart…
Kaleid ladies--we love you!
May you go in peace today,
The Kaleid Team
P.S. We visited the Ignatius House Retreat Center on Monday this week as a team, and we are SO excited about our overnight Kaleid retreat on April 24-25. We would love to have you. Space is limited! Sign up here.
P.S. (Too!): Race in America is an issue that simmers, boils, spills over, and then simmers again. It’s hard. Kaleid wants to provide a space for women to learn to live lives of reconciliation. We want to be women who “do justice.” Our Kaleid Circle on this topic is going to be really rich, because it will give us a chance to lean into these things, together, in honest and real ways. Won’t you join us?